These Missy Elliott Music Videos Prove How Iconic The VMA Video Vanguard Winner Really Is
On Monday, Aug. 26, at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, Missy Elliott will receive the Video Vanguard Award. And honestly, it's about damn time. While Missy is obviously best known for being a rap icon, she's also helped completely transform the art of the music video throughout her career with her relatively small but utterly enviable collection of game-changing, zeitgeist-grabbing clips. And these five Missy Elliott music videos show exactly why she's worthy of the VMA Vanguard Award.
For her debut music video, "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)," released in 1997, rather than conform to the industry's standards about how glamorous women — especially women of color — should look in a music video, Missy wore a garbage bag. Instead of attempting to mask her body, she exaggerated it to cartoonish levels for the world to see. It showed a willingness to bend pop culture to her will without compromising even a single aspect of who she is, a characteristic that would come to define Missy and her artful videos for years to come.
Over the years, as her repertoire of music videos grew, so did her knack for wacky art references, hypnotizing choreography, and eye-popping visuals. Missy helped turn the music video from a promotional tool into a cultural event, especially in the early 2000s. From the debut of future Disney stars to frequent cameos from Timbaland, Ludacris, and more hip-hop icons, the impact of her videos still hold no bounds, making her one of the most worthy winners of the Video Vanguard.
To celebrate her achievement, throw it back to five of Missy Elliott's best music videos that made true pop culture history.
Is it worth it? Yes, it absolutely is. "Work It," released in 2002, has absolutely everything: Missy's face covered in bees, Missy dancing in a freakshow playground, the debut of teen queen Alyson Stoner, Missy eating a Lamborghini, the most poppin' beauty salon on the planet, a saluting soldier giving you "some some some of this Cinnabon." It's almost too much to handle, but it feels just right, and it's not hard to see why "Work It" quickly became Missy's trademark video.
No one has depicted high school as straight up cool as Missy in her 2002 video for "Gossip Folks." From the Adidas tracksuit uniforms, to hallway dance battles, to that one classroom where everyone has slimy green skin but still looks chic, everything just looks cool. Plus Ludacris plays the questionably dressed principal that actually sets bullies straight, and DMC is the bus driver. Where is the class sign-up sheet?
"Get Ur Freak On"
True to it's name, the "Get Ur Freak On" video, released in 2001, is totally freaky. Missy does effortless choreo in an industrial jungle with what I can only presume to be vampires, before stretching her neck out like a giraffe and landing CGI spit right into a dancer's mouth. Plus Eve makes a split-second appearance to bop along to the beat in her pink 'do. It makes no sense, but it didn't need to — "Get Ur Freak On" established Missy as our reigning wacky video maven.
Six albums in, Missy continued to serve up provacative and spellbinding visuals with "Lose Control," a highly underrated clip in the context of her career. Released in 2005, this video still deserves all of the praise for playing with the medium. The visual includes artfully accentuating bodies in the sand, weightlessly throwing a majestic Ciara up against the wall, and some of the fiercest dance routines ever captured on film.
"The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)"
The video that started it all was, in three words, supa dupa fly. Missy dressed in an hilariously large black garbage bag — made even more cartoonish with a fisheye lens — remains one of the defining images of hip-hop, and music in general. This was the first video to really put her eye for innovative and head-scratching art in the spotlight.
"Throw It Back"
Finally, we have Elliott's newest video, "Throw It Back," which opens with Teyana Taylor changing the life of a young fan who's never known the allure of Missy (millennials can't relate). Her visual world is still jaw-dropping, as Missy reigns over an all-pink paradise, makes her mark on the moon (a VMAs reference, perhaps?), and leads the hippest cheerleading squad of all time.
As her newest video proves, Missy's still delivering instantly iconic visuals like nobody else can, over 20 years after her debut. And she's not stopping any time soon.